Mom and I both sing with Top of the Rock Chorus, the Little Rock Chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

This Spring, we were co-chairmen of our third-annual fundraiser Tea. Mom does all the scouting around for donations, recruiting members to volunteer and securing the venue. I’m in charge of the food.

This year, the Tea was at the historic E.O. Manees House, home of the North Little Rock Junior League. It was a picture-perfect Spring day.

Junior League NLR

E.O.Manees House

Our Tea Party has been at the Harper Alexander House for the past two years.  The caretaker there, D’Arlyn Ball, has all the rooms furnished and decorated beautifully. You can see pictures here.

The Manees House, however, has just a small amount of furniture. That is where some of our volunteers really helped out this year. Mom recruited ladies from the chorus  to decorate tables with their own china, flatware, etc. The result was wonderful! No two tables were alike. From fresh flowers to Wedgewood-everything was lovely! I think the ladies enjoyed getting to “show off” a little as well.

Take a look:


purple and green table

TOTR centerpiece

quilt and hydrangeas

purple tulip centerpiece

purple table

Fiesta Ware

silver teapot

vintage teacup

vintage floral china

table for two

toille seatcovers


arranging flowers

hydrangea napkin ring

blue and yellow quilted placemats

yellow roses arrangement

Stay tuned…there will be details about the FOOD coming soon.


I thought I would share a DIY placemat project. I picked up these vinyl tablecloths a couple of years ago on an “after Easter” sale.


They were only 10¢! How could I refuse?! Yes, I bought many more than what you see here.

At least I had a plan for them! Hoooray! Miracles DO happen!

When I got married, my Mom made me these great placemats as a wedding shower gift. I think she got the fabric at Joann or somewhere like that.

Fruit Placemat

They don’t look 20 years old, do they. They have gotten a TON of use. Vinyl is the way to go with kids. Just sponge off the mess and you are good to go.

When my girls were little, I used these placemats to make a cardboard template. I then used that template on some leftover, new, vinyl kitchen flooring. I painted the back side with chalkboard paint.

Guess I was ahead of the trend. That was about 10 years ago. Who knew?

Chalkboard Placemat

My kids never used these much. They don’t like the feel or sound of chalk.

About 6 or 7 years ago, Walmart had some cute fabric-backed vinyl, so I made me some cute new placemats with my same template. That was back when Walmart carried fabric.

Striped placemat

So, here’s the “how-to”…

First make a template.

This was easy for me because I could just trace my existing placemat 1/4”-5/8′ wider to allow for the seam allowance.

Template Size

The long sides are 13 3/4 inches.

The short sides are 7 3/4 inches.

The corner pieces are 2 3/4 inches.

Now, let me just say, I don’t sew a lot. I have to give myself a refresher course every time I use the sewing machine. You may notice a mistake or two. Try to ignore them!

Placemat template

Ok, I’ll point out the first one for you. I should have ironed the fabric. I just placed my template down on a “smooth” part and hoped for the best.

So much for “the best”. I couldn’t stand it! So I had to do something.


Yes, I ironed the vinyl–ON THE BACK! Use some common sense here. Hot iron+plastic=huge mess. IRON ON THE FABRIC SIDE!

ironedTa Da! Now, isn’t that better?

You may have noticed the green Sharpie a couple of pictures ago. I used that to do my tracing. It will be on the inside, so it won’t show. I didn’t use a black because I thought it might show through the white part of the vinyl.

Next, you get out your fabulous box of thread your Mother-in-Law brought you back from Germany. Oh, sorry. Guess that was just me.

thread box

thread candy


Oooo! Ahhhh! I know you are jealous. I’ll quit.

Next, you get some average thread that will match your fabric. ; )

With right sides together, sew around your placemat. Use whatever seam allowance you like. I tend to go with a 1/4″.

See that space where there is no stitching? Be sure to leave an opening, unless you like the cheesy fabric side better.

sew edges together

leave an opening

Turn you placemat right-side out. That is why you left the opening. Sorry, no pictures of me wrestling placemats.

You do want to have nice crisp corners on you placemats. I used this little corner tool. I’m pretty sure you can find them at fabric shops. I have had mine forever. You don’t have to have one. You could use something like a chopstick to push out those corners.

Corner Tool

Now top stitch all the way around the mat. Remember to tuck in the seam allowance on the opening.


I made two rows of stitching around my set. I think it looks a little fancier that way.

corner detail

finished product

Make them all the same or different colors. Give them as gifts or keep them for yourself. Be sure to look for vinyl tablecloths at those post-holiday sales. Maybe you can get a bargain like I did!

(Guess I didn’t get a picture of the place mats in use. I’ll remedy that on Sunday, maybe.)